Fighting Online Piracy

iphone-472197_1280The wealth of technology available in today’s world allows individuals and businesses to become increasingly interconnected with one other. It allows people to instantly share photos, videos, and other content with family and friends; access limitless content and services over the internet; and communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that the iternet is also a critical tool that aids us in our mission to spread the gospel throughout the world. In a statement from lds.org regarding the use of online resources, the Church states: “When carefully used, the Internet can help coordinate the work of the Church, strengthen faith, and minister to the needs of others. The Internet can also help with missionary work as people connect with friends and family and share Church content.” [1]

Though these technologies make our lives noticeably easier and more enjoyable, they don’t come without risks. We could spend hours talking about the various personal privacy and security issues inherent to the internet and social media. However, I’d like to focus specifically on the issue of piracy, or the theft of intellectual property.

The FBI defines intellectual property theft as “robbing people of their ideas, inventions, and creative expressions—what’s called intellectual property—everything from trade secrets and proprietary products and parts to movies and music and software.” [2] Because technology makes it so easy for us to share and download content online, most of us have been guilty of piracy at some point, sometimes without even realizing it.

A few of the more well-known violations of copyright law occur when a person downloads music online without paying for it or illegally streams video from a file-sharing network. The Recording Industry Association of America states that “since peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing site Napster emerged in 1999, music sales in the U.S. have dropped 53 percent, from $14.6 billion to $7.0 billion in 2013.” [3] This statistic helps articulate how much money is being stolen from the recording industry due to online piracy. To some people, stealing music and video seems obviously wrong. Most of the world, though, either doesn’t realize or chooses to ignore the fact that these acts are illegal. You can be heavily fined or even go to jail for violating copyright law, depending on the seriousness and frequency of the violation. Most large video hosting companies, such as YouTube, have strong systems in place to detect and counteract incidents of copyright infringement. [4]

The Mayweather vs. Pacquiao boxing match, which occurred on May 2nd, 2015, led to many copyright infringements. It was referred to as the fight of the century and revenue generated through advertising, ticket sales, and pay-per-view was estimated to be nearly $400 million. [5] Periscope, an application  used for creating, sharing, and watching live video broadcasts, reported people illegally streaming the fight from their phones soon after it began. [6] Because of its policy against copyright infringement, Periscope disabled at least 30 live streams of the fight out of the 66 complaints received. [7] Periscope engineers are currently working to implement systems that allow them to respond more quickly to these complaints in the future.

This is just one example of piracy in the news. As law-abiding citizens, it is our duty to be aware of copyright laws and ensure that we abide by them. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints specifically, we have a responsibility to use technology for good rather than for our own personal gain. Because piracy issues will become increasingly more prevalent in the future, it is critical that we stay informed. Though it is important to abide by these laws to avoid earthly consequences, it is even more important that we abide by them in order to retain our personal integrity.

[1] “Use of Online Resources in Church Callings.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Published at: https://www.lds.org/pages/online-resources-for-church-callings?lang=eng

[2] “Intellectual Property Theft.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved at: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/white_collar/ipr/ipr

[3] “Scope of the Problem.” Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved at: https://www.riaa.com/physicalpiracy.php?content_selector=piracy-online-scope-of-the-problem

[4] “Copyright on YouTube.” Retrieved at: https://www.youtube.com/yt/copyright/

[5] Said-Moorhouse, Lauren and Chris Borg. “Face-off: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao by the numbers.” CNN, 3 May 2015. Retrieved at: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/01/sport/mayweather-pacquiao-by-the-numbers/

[7] “Periscope Responds to Mayweather-Pacquiao Piracy.” NBC News, 5 May 2015. Retrieved at: http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/internet/periscope-responds-mayweather-pacquiao-piracy-n353921

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